Excuse me Mr. President, as a parent I want to Know - How Does it Feel to be the First?
Have you ever wondered what does it feel like to be the first? The one to lead the path not yet traveled. I sometimes think about this with my oldest. Maybe she will be the first African American woman to become Justice of the Supreme Court, president of the United States, or governor of the state we live in. Despite the fact that we are in 2014, there are still African American firsts yet to be seen. Still, I know if any of my children were to ever be the ‘first’, I got a feeling that it won’t be all roses and sunshine. Have you ever seen Elizabeth Eckford’s face sheathed in shaky confidence, as she walked away from a fiery hot White mob upset over the fact that she and eight others would integrate Central High School?
|Elizabeth Eckford||Ruby Bridges|
Every time I look at the video of Elizabeth Eckford on September 4, 1957 I get chills. I feel the same when I see video footage or pictures of Ruby Bridges walking into school surrounded by guards. I can’t help but think about how their families had taken special time to dress them in their Sunday best. I envision their mama’s nerves causing them to pick at hem lines, starched collars and shined patent leather shoes the morning of. Dinnertime weeks before and over morning breakfast, passing out plenty of warnings about how to act if they were to encounter trouble at school. I am sure they prayed for the best and sat armpits soaked and stomach uneasy waiting for them to return home that fateful first day. Oh the angst their mamas must have felt watching their children later on TV being bullied by a massive, angry crowd. Not physically there to protect or help I am sure drove them crazy. Hope for better opportunities for their children the only thing to keep them some kind of sane. But, from the faces of Elizabeth Eckford and Ruby Bridges it seems they were prepared well and understood what their ‘firstie’ success could mean to others who look like them in the future. Despite potentially encountering ‘firstie’ cons like:
- People questioning if you can do ‘it’
- Intense anxiety about failing
How would you handle your child being ‘the first’?